The Beginning


                                                    St. Mary's College, Sulthan Bathery is a premier institution of the Malankara (Indian) Orthodox Syrian Church. 


St. Mary's College, Sulthan Bathery is named after Saint Mary, the Mother of Jesus of Nazreth.

Jesus of Nazreth had many disciples. St. Thomas, popularly known as the 'doubting Thomas' (for he was not ready to believe that Christ had resurrected from the dead unless he could see his Master himself), was sent to the eastern lands. St. Thomas is believed to have established the Church in Kerala in  52 AD. 

            Jesus of Nazreth

Saint Mary (with baby Jesus) in whose name the college is named after

The Malankara Orthodox Syrian Church claims the legacy of Saint Thomas the Apostle. The supreme head of Church, His Holiness the Catholicos holds the titular position to the 'Throne of Saint Thomas' and is the 91st Prelate to the throne.

 Saint Thomas the Apostle of India

The Church is Autocephalous; meaning, it has its own head and is not under an external Patriarch, Pope or authority making it autonomous both in spiritual and temporal matters.

The Church had to suffer many trials and tribulations over the centuries to protect its freedom and tradition of faith and worship.

The Apostolic Church maintains a strict hierarchy of the Supreme Head, His Holiness the Catholicos, the Bishops and the Priests.  

1900 years after the arrival of Saint Thomas, Fr. Mathai Nooranal, (1928-2002) the young priest was appointed to the hills of Wayanad, particularly Sulthan Bathery in 1951  by His Grace Poulose Mar Severios. 

Though appointed for an initial term of just 1 year, Fr. Mathai Nooranal decided to stay on in spite of the adverse economic and climatic conditions.

The rest is history of Wayand. 

Centuries back, there existed a civilization in Wayanad evidenced by the now famous Edakkal Cave inscriptions.  

Edakkal Cave Inscriptions

Centuries later, the land attracted the British as well who had their heart and mind in the black gold, namely Pepper grown abundantly in the forests of Wayanad. It finally resulted in all efforts to subjugate the land and the people much to the chagrin of those who believed in the freedom of thought and expression. Veera Kerala Pazhassi Raja, the Great was one of them. He thought that it is his duty and destiny to regain the freedom of his people.

Pepper: the spice which defined history 


King Veera Kerala Pazhassi Raja, the Great

He fought the British with the help and aid of the native tribes including the Kurichia tribes of Wayanad. He faced the bullets of the British army with the sparkling arrowheads powered by the bows of valour and local wisdom of battle and  warfare. 

Finally, the British had to bring in Major General Arthur Wellesly, the British army commandant  Mysore, Canara and Malabar. 

Birtish Major General Arthur Wellesly

The 'Sepoy General' as the French Emperor Napoleon would later call him, ( Ironically, the "sepoy' defeated Napoleon in his Waterloo in 1815) employed all his wits and tricks and finally succeeded in defeating the Raja in 1805.  History of Wayanad was taking a new turn. Colonial exploitation as usual continued. The maiden lands and forests of Wayanad slowly gave way to large estates of Coffee and Tea. The British thrived. The natives survived.

French Emperor Napoleon Bonaparte

World War I and later World War II  foretold great famine and misery to the common man. For food and survival, the common man from other parts of Kerala slowly started migrating to the rich and fertile land and marshes of Wayanad.  

There emerged a different population in Wayanad which was a happy and often unhappy mix of the native Adivasis and the various communities from other parts of Kerala co existing in the district side by side.

People belonging to the Malankara Orthodox Syrian Christian community was one among them. The Malankara Orthodox Syrian Church of the East has been in the vanguard of higher education scenario of Kerala for centuries. Less proficient in religious conversion and least interested in proselytization,  the Church  accords top priority to bringing quality education to the grass roots, besides other philanthropic activities based on its faith in One God who belongs to All.   

Armed with the provision of 250 acres of land at Payyannur and the expected philanthropy of a prominent family of the Church,  on 23.10.1963, an application was sent to the Government of Kerala by His Holiness Baselios Catholicos, the supreme head of the Church (the times of HH Baselios Gheevarghese II and the Catholicose designate His Grace Augen Mar Thimothios).

An year later procedures were initiated with a letter from the the University of Kerala (16.11.1964). In the meantime, the Secretary of Malabar Diocese Sri. M. C. Pothen responded to a letter from His Holiness Augen Ist  that "I would suggest that Your Holiness writes to Father Mathai Nooranal about this matter". Sri. M. C. Pothen was a prominent member of the Church and was a renowned planter in Malabar.

Opportunity was knocking  at the door of Wayanad. With no land, no building  and  no clue of any source of  funding, Fr. Mathai Nooranal took up the challenge at the young age of 38.

Fr. Mathai Nooranal (1928-2002) played the pivotal role in fulfilling the vision of the church, by putting forward all efforts.  By the prayers and blessings of His Holiness and the Metropolitan Bishops, and the well wishes and support of the co-priests, members of the church as well as the general public, Fr. Mathai Nooranal made a dream come true. 

The college was formally inaugurated on Ist July 1965 by Rev. Fr. Mathai Nooranal, the founder Chairman of the Governing Board at a meeting presided over by Late Sri. M. C. Pothen (Manamel), founder Secretary of the governing Board.  

The institution had the providence of the presence of a Bishop when more than an  year later, in 1967  His Grace Thomas Mar Thimothios, the newly ordained Bishop took charge of the Diocese, His Grace became the President of Governing Board and Fr. Mathai Nooranal changed over as Secretary of Governing Board and Sri M. C. Pothen became the Treasurer. Sri. Pothen remained in the office until he expired in 1993.

Sri. K. M. Cherian (Kandathil) and Sri. K. M. Mathew (Kandathil), both Chief Editors of Malayala Manorama were pillars of strength for Fr. Mathai Nooranal during the foundation of the college as well during the significant years of its development.

   Kandathil K. M. Cherian 

   Manamel M. C. Pothen   

Sri. Jacob Mathew, Director and Executive Editor, Malayala Manorama, Kottayam remained in the office of the treasurer from 1993 to 2003.

H. G. Kuriakose Mar Clemis had been the Manager and President of the Board since 1991 (and Treasurer from 2003 to 2009).

H.G. Abraham Mar Epiphanios assumed charge as the President, Governing Board and  Manager in April 2009  with additional powers of Treasury.